Drew Page is the News & Media Editor for the Connecticut Conference, UCC and co-dean for week 4 at Silver Lake Conference Center.
Scripture: Amos 7:7-9 (NRSV)
This is what he showed me: the Lord was standing beside a wall built with a plumb-line, with a plumb-line in his hand. And the Lord said to me, ‘Amos, what do you see?’ And I said, ‘A plumb-line.’ Then the Lord said,
‘See, I am setting a plumb-line
in the midst of my people Israel;
I will never again pass them by;
the high places of Isaac shall be made desolate,
and the sanctuaries of Israel shall be laid waste,
and I will rise against the house of Jeroboam with the sword.’
The plumb line, or plumb bob, is a tool invented by the Egyptians over 4000 years ago. In Amos’ time, it would be a common tool, certainly to a shepherd and farmer like him. The tool, still used today, is a weight with a string attached. When hung from a point, it draws a perfectly vertical line to the ground. Egyptians, and everyone since, used this straight line to create vertical posts and walls, to measure tracts of land, even to measure the stars. It was a reference to which many other objects and circumstances could be measured.
And God told Amos he was setting one in the midst of the Israelites. I’ll admit, I’m no engineer, so I have no idea how that would help destroy the kingdom of Jeroboam.
But the idea of God placing a plumb line amidst the people is just awesome.
In our day, it is getting awfully difficult to find a reference in life. We are bombarded with bias. We see and hear news from organizations that do not seem capable of sharing only facts (or even any facts). We surround ourselves with like-mindedness, hiding in a comfortable din of words and ideas that we can relate with. Even when we struggle to free ourselves from these preferred quagmires, we escape into an unfamiliar space with no arrows or signs telling us which way to go.
How cool would it be to have a vision in which God says, “Here’s your plumb bob. Just use this as a reference, and you’ll be fine.”
Jesus was that reference, some will say? The bible shows is the perfectly straight line, others will say. Well, says my cynical side, that was a long time ago, the stories skewed by ages and ages. Is the Jesus Line — those acts and words written down by men hundreds of years ago, translated in many languages, often dozens of times — as perfectly straight as a plumb line?
Here’s the thing about a plumb line – if you build a post with a plumb line, the post will be straight, perhaps not perfectly vertical, but very, very close. Once straightened, that post can serve as a reference for something else. Each straight post can serve to create another.
Jesus said, “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Okay, I can do that; that is a line I can follow. In fact, I can do more than follow. As this devotion gets published, I will be at Silver Lake, deaning a 7th and 8th grade conference. Perhaps I can try to be a plumb line for some of those kids. Imperfect as I am, I can try to be a reference to them, a guide to helping them understanding the Jesus Line – to love rather than hate, to care rather than ignore. Maybe those around me — my co-dean and wife, Debby, and my wonderful counselors — can also be models of the Jesus Line. And when those kids return home, they too can be a reference – helping others find the Jesus Line.
Maybe God only ever needed the one plumb line. The rest is on us.
Holy God, you have shown us the way through Jesus Christ. Thank you. We’ll take it from here.
New Prayer Requests:We ask churches and church leaders to join us in the following prayers either by sharing them during worship, printing them in bulletins, or sharing them in some other way. To make a prayer request, please contact Drew Page at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Prayers of Intercession:
- for the Staff, Volunteers, and Campers at Silver Lake Conference Center as Week 4 of the summer season begins.
- for Bill Worcester, husband of Rev. Sara Worcester, who had bone marrow transplant surgery last week.
- for an end to tensions in Chicago following the release of a video showing the moments that led up to a man being shot by police.
Prayers of Joy and Thanksgiving:
- for the Wallingford Workcamp project, sponsored by the First Congregational Church of Wallingford and the Group Mission Trips nonprofit organization, which resulted in 360 youth and adult volunteers repairing 54 homes for free throughout Wallingford and neighboring communities last week.
- for the successful rescue of the 12 boys on a Thailand soccer team and their coach, who were trapped deep inside a cave by rising waters; one diver was lost in the difficult operation.
Please Remember These Connecticut Conference Churches
In Your Prayers:
First Congregational Church, UCC
Prospect Congregational Church, UCC
Congregational Church of Putnam UCC
First Church of Christ Congregational, UCC
Ridgebury Congregational UCC
This Week in History:
July 20, 1969 (49 years ago): Neil Armstrong becomes the first person to walk on the moon. As he stepped off the Eagle lander, 240,000 miles from Earth, Armstrong said, "That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind." It's estimated that a billion people on Earth were listening at the time.
Drew Page is a member of the Conference's Communications Team. He writes and edits news, blogs, and devotionals, produces video, and spends a week each summer deaning at Silver Lake Conference Center with his wife, Debby.